DO-IT-YOURSELF TAX INCREASE KIT

About this time every year, the Congressional Budget Office presents the House and Senate budget committees with a long list of budget spending and revenue options.

This year's options report takes on a little additional importance because of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deficit reduction act.The act requires that the fiscal 1988 deficit be reduced from the $169 billion level, which CBO estimates would occur if current policies are continued, to $108 billion.

The president's budget calls for a deficit of $107.8 billion but CBO, which differs with the administration on a number of key assumptions, contends that enactment of that budget would leave the deficit about $30 billion above target. Most private estimates of the budget picture are closer to the CBO figure.

There is the further problem that Congress isn't about to enact the Reagan budget and particularly the spending cuts that the president has proposed for several years without success.

That leaves the prospect of additional billions that will have to be dealt with if the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings target for fiscal 1988 is to be met.

There is not a great deal of confidence that the target will be reached. Despite the president's insistence on that point, key House Democrats have suggested the target should be raised and they are not alone in that view.

And prior efforts to live within the confines of Gramm-Rudman-Hollings have not been successful. In fiscal 1986, admittedly the first year affected by the act, the deficit was about $49 billion above the target. In fiscal 1987,the current year, the margin of error may be $30 billion or more.

The CBO report offers a wide menu of choices to avoid a recurrence of that phenomenon in fiscal 1988. Its revenue options, for example, add up to something like a do-it-yourself tax increase kit for finding, say, $20 billion to help meet the fiscal 1988 deficit target.

That kit should only be used with the highest of principles in mind, such as the one popular ized a few tax reform acts back by former Sen. Russell B. Long, D-La.:

Don't tax you, don't tax me;

Tax the fellow behind the tree -

And tax the hell out of him.

A more practical guide would involve remembering President Reagan's repeated statements of opposition to any tax increase this year.

The president stepped back somewhat from similar statements in 1982 and 1984 and embraced some revenue-enhancing actions, but he is not likely to accept, even as a last resort, any hike involving the basic rates in the tax reform act.

That would preclude such relatively direct and big-dollar steps as extending the 1987 transitional tax rates for individuals and corporations for another year. Continuing both would raise a combined $16.8 billion.

Also foreclosed would be a boost in the permanent marginal tax rates of 15 percent and 28 percent under the reform act to 16 percent and 30 percent. Those two steps would raise a total of $14 billion, CBO estimates.

Related but no more acceptable possibilities in the eyes of the White House would involve adding a top 33 percent bracket for individuals to the reform rate structure for a $2.8 billion revenue gain or raising its 34 percent marginal corporate rate by a percentage point to pick up an additional $1.5 billion.

A little more likely source of increased revenue would be an oil import fee, an idea that often surfaced in past budget debates. A $5 a barrel fee would add $8.1 billion.

The fee would bring that much and more in higher prices to the domestic oil industry but other sections of the nation would face both the tax and higher prices for gasoline, heating oil and other petroleum products.

An alternative would be a boost in the federal gasoline tax that would confine the impact to that product. According to CBO, a 12-cent hike would yield about $10.6 billion.

The CBO report continues through dozens of other tax increase options, including possibilities for involving the sin taxes, the excises on cigarettes and alcoholic beverages.

CBO estimates that raising the tax rates on wine and beer to the alcohol- equivalent rate for distilled spirits would yield an additional $4.2 billion.

Doubling the 16-cent tax on a pack of cigarettes would produce a revenue gain of $2.9 billion.

Those kinds of increases, while more likely in the present political environment than those discussed earlier, conflict with another notion of tax equity.

It holds that there ought to be a tax on those who don't drink, smoke or drive on the theory that they haven't been paying their share.

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